Tonight the Muslim Students’ Association will be hosting a lecture to mark the end of Islam Awareness Week, an event aimed at highlighting Islamic culture.
The lecture, which is co-sponsored by Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs, the Black Student Union and other student organizations, will feature two keynote speakers, stand-up comedian Preacher Moss and Yvonne Seon — a professor of African American studies at Prince George’s Community College in Maryland and the mother of Dave Chappelle.
The lecture will address the idea of being a “minority within a minority,” by associating with being both African American and Muslim in today’s world.
LSA sophomore Sarah Abe, Islamic relations committee chair for the Muslim Students’ Association, said the goal of the lecture and the week as whole is to educate students about Islam.
“We put on an event every single night (this week) about different topics…to spread the word a little about Islam, not to convert people,” she said. “The general conception of Islam in the news is not very good, so we are really hoping to change that.”
LSA sophomore Tareq Yaqub, a co-chair for Islam Awareness Week, said the week was intended to address certain misconceptions about Islam, especially about the perceived oppression of Muslim woman and the idea of terrorism and Jihad.
Yaqub added that the week-long event was meant to engage both Muslim and non-Muslim students on campus.
“We encourage non-Muslims to come, that’s why we put on these events,” he said. “We take on the most asked about questions, like headscarves and Jihad.”
“I’m not hoping to make these anti-Muslim people love Islam, but I want to make them hate it a little less,” Yaqub said.
Abe echoed Yaqub’s sentiments, saying that she is hurt by the fact that people have formed the wrong idea about her religion.
“We know it’s not about oppressing women and blowing up random buildings and killing people, it’s definitely not. It’s so far from that,” she said. “Islam is so beautiful, in my eyes, that to see people who take it and twist it and other people who believe that they are spreading the proper Islam, it’s just horrible.”
Amer Ahmed, associate director of MESA/Trotter Multi-Cultural Center, said he is hoping tonight’s lecture will draw a large audience and reinforce some of what was discussed at other events throughout the week.
“I’m hoping that people will value the content and will learn something from it,” he said. “I hope they will feel like they got exposed to something they otherwise would have never gotten exposed to between the content, the individuals they’ll come across and the people that they’ll get to meet at the programs.”
Ahmed said he also believes the topic of the lecture is especially relevant in context of the issues Muslim Americans currently face.
“The role of Islam and Muslims in America is extremely important in the political, social and cultural climate of the United States right now,” he said.